About Arteriosclerosis & Cardiovascular Risk
Risk factors are conditions or behaviors that increase your chances of getting a certain disease. This page discusses risk factors for arteriosclerosis coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease). There are different types of risk factors for other cardiovascular conditions, but these are not discussed here.
Some risk factors for arteriosclerosis heart disease can be treated or controlled and some can not. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of developing coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis. The higher your level of each risk factor, the greater your risk of developing coronary heart disease. The best way to prevent coronary heart disease is to:
- Know your risk factors
- Tell your doctor if you have any risk factors
- Take steps to control your controllable risk factors
Uncontrollable Risk Factors:
- The risk of coronary heart disease increases with age.
- Men ages 45 and older have increased risk.
- Women ages 55 and older have increased risk.
Children of parents who developed coronary heart disease before age 55 are more likely to develop it themselves.
Racial or Ethnic Background
African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, and other Native Americans have greater risk than Caucasians.
Controllable Risk Factors:
- Sedative people with inactive lifestyles have increased risk.
- 30-60 minutes of physical activity on most days helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- People who smoke cigarettes have the greatest risk.
- People who smoke cigars or pipes seem to have greater risk, but their risk is not as great as cigarette smokers'.
- Exposure to other people's smoke increases the risk of cardiovascular disease even for nonsmokers.
- Quitting smoking helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
Overweight or Obesity
- People who have too much body fat, especially around stomach area, have increased risk.
- Women with waist measurements of more than 35 inches have greater arteriosclerosis risk.
- Men with waist measurements of more than 40 inches have increased risk.
- People with Body Mass Index (BMI) values of 25 or greater have increased risk.
- Losing weight helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
For more information, see: NIH's Aim for a Healthy Weight: Assessing Your Risk.
High Blood Pressure
- People who have blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher have increased risk.
- Lowering blood pressure reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
- For more information, see: High Blood Pressure.
High Blood Cholesterol
- People with total blood cholesterol levels of 200 mg/dL or higher have increased risk.
- People with heart disease or diabetes, who have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels of 100 mg/dL or higher, have increased risk.
- People with no other risk factors, who have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels of 160 mg/dL or higher, have increased risk.
- People with high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels of less than 40 mg/dL may have increased risk.
- People with triglyceride levels above 150 mm/dL may have increased risk.
- For more information, see: High Cholesterol.
People who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes have increased risk, especially without healthy eating and regular ongoing exercise routines.
Other Contributing Factors
People who have too much stress or who have unhealthy responses to stress may be at greater risk of having arteriosclerosis coronary heart disease.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for the Treatment of Menopause ...
Some women who take hormone replacement therapy for the treatment of menopause may have increased risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.